‘Til We Finally Meet

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When we awoke you were not to be
You never swam in our blue sea
Now you’ve gone to different oceans
Than the one we floated our hopes in

When we lost our baby, I did not know how to grieve. So I didn’t. I treated it like a failed cycle and put my hand to the plow, pulling my heart and body toward the next thing. We will get pregnant again, I told myself. That will make it all better. Lets pretend this never happened.

You were a breaking in the clouds
We barely said these things aloud
There was a question you were the answer
We heard music you were the dancer

But in the in-between time, waiting for my body to recover so we could begin treatment again, it eventually became too much to ignore that we had a child. Two children, I guess, though my mind can’t possibly comprehend the existence of that other one, the empty sac that never grew beyond four or five weeks. But that beautiful miracle on the ultrasound scream, the sound of the doctor exclaiming “There’s a baby with a heartbeat!” when we were sure we would see a lifeless blob,  that was our baby.

Peace, sweet dreams
May you be in our memories
‘Til we finally meet

She is gone, and I’m not sure where she is. I believe in an in-between space, a heaven before heaven-on-earth, but I’m not sure what goes on there and what that should mean for me. The Bible isn’t very concerned with telling us about that. I guess it thinks that we should concern ourselves more with this “kingdom come to earth” thing.

But I do believe that things changed with the resurrection and that, one day, all will be redeemed. Will this look like my daughter running freely, healthy and whole? I hope so. I know that resurrection always looks better than we could imagine it looking.

I had a dream I was alone
The sun was hot, oh how it shone
And I was tired but I kept going
Wild winds were blowing

These lyrics are from the song ‘Til We Finally Meet, by Waterdeep. I got their album for free on Noisetrade, and I listened to this song on repeat during my run on Monday. I have no idea to whom or for what situation this song was written, but it felt like it was written for me. Like God was speaking to me through it, whispering that it is time, time to remember and mourn and celebrate this child of mine.

So, this month, as I once again resume nightly shots in my stomach, regular ultrasounds of my ovaries, and desperate prayers that this would please, please work, I am also starting to admit that my baby existed. I am starting to not just grieve her, but celebrate her. She gave me hope, she gave me a dream. She was a life, and no life is insignificant in this Kingdom, no death too small for resurrection.

And I looked up I raised my eyes
Your mighty branches filled the skies
And I found shade beneath your leaves 
What wonder sorrow sees

 

Maundy Thursday: In the Garden

On this Maundy Thursday, I am reposting from earlier this year, after we found out we had lost our baby.

On this day, may we remember that we are invited into the garden with Jesus. Here, in this dark and lonely place, he welcomes us into his own grief and willingly shares in ours.


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Photo Credit: Lawrence OP via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Lawrence OP via Compfight cc

We live in a finite world where everything is dying, shedding its strength. This is hard to accept, and all our lives we look for exceptions to it. We look for something strong, undying, infinite. Religions tells us that something is God. Great, we say, we’ll attach ourselves to this strong God. Then this God comes along and says, “Even I suffer. Even I participate in the finiteness of this world.” Thus Clare and Francis’ image of God was not an “alimighty” and strong God, but in fact a poor vulnerable, and humble one like Jesus. This is at the heart at the Biblical and Franciscan worldview.

The enfleshment and suffering of Jesus is saying that God is not apart from the trials of humanity. God is not aloof. God is not a mere spectator. God is not merely tolerating or even healing all human suffering. Rather, God is participating with us–in all of it–the good and the bad! I wonder if people can avoid becoming sad and cynical about the tragedies of history if they do not know this.

Richard Rohr, adapted from Job and the Mystery of Suffering

The above quote was one of the most meaningful texts I read last year. It is radical, this idea that God enters into our suffering. Our picture of God is often one in which he is unaffected by us, removed from our grief. But this is not the God revealed in Jesus.

That God has suffered and suffers still has been incredibly meaningful for me these past few days. I can not seem to sleep in while pregnant (which I still am, for an indeterminate amount of time), and Friday and Saturday mornings found me awake and entrenched in pain beyond anything I had felt before. It was agony, the kind of grief that makes you want to just quietly give up and die, rather than living another moment in that pain.

During these hours, the most helpful activity was imagining Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. There he knelt, this man of sorrows, sweating blood and tears and begging for things to be different. His closest friends lay a stones throw away, but they were sleeping, unaware of the agony so near to them. As I lay in bed, I imagined myself crawling up to Jesus in that garden, looking at him in his grievous state, and telling him that my baby had died. I knew that this pain was not beyond him, that it was not too great or too insignificant for him. And I knew that he grieved with me.

This is the kind of God that we have, and it fills me with peace. He is not an impassible, unmovable God. It is easy to feel like I should ignore or push away my grief during times like this, but I’m glad that I don’t need to feel that way around Jesus. I’m glad he lets me join him in his suffering and shares with me in mine.

Beauty to bless the world, Part 2 (Through My Husband’s Eyes)

A few weeks ago, Tom and Keith (his boss/partner in crime) were asked to give the sermon on February 20 and 23. There aren’t too many things that scare my husband, but this freaked him out. No matter how comfortable you are with communicating to others, preaching for a large church is daunting. There are a lot of people in the pews and bright lights on your face, and it can be overwhelming. 

I wrote last week about partnering with God to bring beauty out of pain. It is really special when you find ways to do it. However, practicing it isn’t always the easiest thing. So when Tom came home and asked me if he could share our story as part of the sermon, including the video of our baby’s heartbeat, it was hard to know how to respond. It is terrifying to be vulnerable, but even more so with a story that you don’t particularly like. I loved the story when it ended with a miracle heartbeat. This would have made for a great sermon! But our miracle was stolen from us. How can something like that be used for good?

But I told Tom “yes” for the same reason I have been blogging about our infertility and loss: because I know I am not the only one who suffers. It is scary to take off our masks on Sunday morning, scary to be vulnerable and authentic with people. We put on our best face, because we think that is the only way to receive love. But Jesus didn’t preach to the satisfied, he preached to those who were suffering. They were the ones to whom he offered hope. And I wanted Tom to do the same.

Miracles are great, but the more shocking stories are the ones in which the very worst happens and yet all is not lost.  And that is our story, the story of being crushed to the point of despair and yet finding that we are anchored to something stronger than our pain. It’s the realization that suffering does not mean we have been abandoned by God; if anything, it means he is nearer and the comfort is greater. That’s where we have found hope along our journey.

So Tom shared about our infertility and the loss of our baby, and as he did, something miraculous happened. He not only got through it, but he was the most comfortable and confident I have ever seen him while speaking. I could only sit through one of the sermons, and I can only re-watch snippets of the first 10 minutes, so I don’t really know how he did it three times. But he was so brave and there was so much grace upon him. It is a picture of partnership; Tom’s willingness to share and God’s willingness to uphold him while he did it. 

So enjoy these words from my meat-loving husband (vegetarians, know that I get you, even if Tom does not) and our brilliant spiritual formation pastor, Keith.

Whole-Hearted: Making Space for God and Others from White River Christian Church on Vimeo.